The Ringmaster asks for silence by putting his hands up and soon everyone quiets down giving him their attention. He goes on through the list of the cities and towns they’ll be passing through assuring Jean and Jane they’ll get plenty of time to find new materials, assuring Mr. and Mrs. Magentis they’ll have time to practice their various foreign languages. Clive wants to know if they can spend an extra day or so in Allentown so he can do some building with an expert illusionist, Polly would like to spend some time with her family in Shelbyville. Mr. Thimble says yes to both accounts and once everyone has voiced their needs they wish to be met at the different stops, the rest of the performers and workers have woken up. They amble to the food tent ready for coffee and food, catching the excitement of the ones who’ve already been up for hours. Once the entire camp is awake and working the buzz of business is loud and the delightful shouts of playing children mixes with the scolds of their parents as everyone hurries to pack up camp. There are stagehands that help set up the tents, drive, and break down. There are those who take tickets and do public relations. Everyone pitches in with the show; everyone has multiple duties during the day and in the course of the night. You can hardly say you’ve ever seen more hardworking and skilled folk; the performers as well as stagehands and the seamstresses. These people who’ve been going from town to town, city-to-city, entertaining millions, are going to suddenly find themselves in a predicament they hadn’t been in for a very long time. A predicament they’ve always been afraid of, hoping to have found permanent shelter from it in the circus. There are those that do not like their kind, for you see, our friends are not all they appear to be. It’s been said the best place to hide is in the open. A thief hides a recently stolen painting rolled up and packaged, lumped with the outgoing mail. An alcoholic hides his hooch in a coffee mug. A faerie hides his magic in the guise of a magician. An ogre might look like the strong man, a nymph moves like a ballerina. Sometimes a child who does not have the same limitations as adults might see a stagehand climb like a monkey and maybe, very quickly that child would notice a tail; a tail on a man? The child’s parents will laugh it off as Imagination but that child would know - at least until she grew up and forgot - that she is seeing something supernatural. To a child any circus is a wonder but Slap Dash and Lace, even to adults, is a suspension of time and disbelief. The Magentis family, as they fly across the sky above them, or Octavia, she could almost be the music her motions are so fluid. The way Pearl dances with her snake, her very poisonous snake and yet, it seems the slithery harbinger of death loves his mistress and she loves him. Yes, the parents that amble in with their young forget their age and revel along with their offspring. Little do they know however, that they are not watching acrobats and performers of the human variety. A circus is a family affair, not just for those that visit, but also for those that work it. The children pitch in as much as they can, fitting in arithmetic and spelling in with how to tie a sturdy knot, how to keep the tents closed during storms, how to break down and build up stages within minutes. Costume changes, warm ups, dance lessons, gymnastics, these things are of equal importance to a child of the circus as much as geography or language might be. The child that wishes to run away with the circus so as not to go to school would be sadly disappointed. Physics, geometry, these are studies needed for the correct calculations of tent height or cannon ball velocity. Yes, a virtual cornucopia of schooling is what these youngsters receive, and for these particular children, they receive certain lessons in their family’s art. A magician might be born with natural talent but it takes much practice to reign in the power and guide it. A shape shifter might know how to change at birth but is it voluntary and does the child perhaps get stuck with ears of a mouse, unable to shift completely? These are the concerns of the parents of this particular circus. The day is spent taking down tents, breaking down stages, and folding costumes, packing tables, chairs, pots and pans. As the sun begins its decent in the sky trucks hitched with trailers for living and cargo naturally fall into a line as they leave the big fairgrounds that for one entire month had been their home. Polly and Octavia ride with Hank, Clive and Jimmy; music blasting from the stereo. The weather is changing and though dusk settles around their shoulders the air is warm. The windows are rolled down and there’s a smile on everyone face. Mr. Thimble is in his truck by himself. In the side mirrors he can see the serpentine figure his circus makes behind him and he smiles. This is his family; as rough and tumble as they might be they are his world. He lights his cigar and puts the match in the truck ashtray. The music plays low as he thinks how long it will take to get to their first destination. They’ll do a couple of quick week stops before they get to the bigger towns and stay longer. He has many details in his brain, swimming together to form full thoughts. If he were to think aloud, the thoughts would sound disjointed, uneven, mangled. But his brain jumps from one to the other, remembering to go back to the first or third thought and finish it. He has to make sure he drives slower than usual as one of the cargo trucks tends to over heat. That’s something they’ll fix in the next town. Then he thinks about Froggy’s new motorbike; they’ve set aside some good money and he knows how excited Froggy is. For as much as his thoughts wander around each and every person in his circus family, there’s always a bit of his thought on one in particular. He sighs as Octavia pops up again like she did just a few minutes before. What he wouldn’t give to finally once and for all tell that woman how he feels. And yet… and yet it’s been a garden of years since they first met and the Ringmaster thinks he might never tell her. The CB cracks as Hank tells a dirty joke pulling Mr. Thimble out of his reverie. Alive now with excitement for the road different drivers chime in with limericks, short stories and lots of playful banter. If there’s any place on earth these people could be it would be right here, on the road, with each other.
Words of Mine; An Introduction
I love the sound of words; of letters strung together. Words are like little puzzles and when put together correctly they can invoke pictures of images yet unseen. I see my thoughts like a perfect sequence of still photographs and I find those visions entertaining. The stories I gather from cobwebbed corners, or the vivid thoughts that float lazily through my mind, or the rapid fire ideas all force me to write them down before they evaporate; I can't help but think others might just find them as interesting as I do. Perhaps the little stories you read will make your day a little brighter.